9 juli 2011

The big sky of Österlen

Light polution is a problem of the modern world. Those of us who live in large cities, rarely see the sky at night. We've lost our connection to the stars, planets and constellations and we usually only see a reflection of the dingy orange of metroploitan lighting when we look up into the night sky.

This is what makes leaving the city so exciting. A move to less populated areas, to a more rural location reconnects us with the universe.

Österlen is the most south-westerly tip of Sweden. The sandy, Baltic coastline looks out onto a horizon of sea, with Poland out-of-sight on the other side. Everything is big in rural Österlen. The sea is big. The fields of wheat are big. The sky is big and bright and blue.

But it is at night that the sky comes into its own. The night sky over Österlen, when not lit by the distant midsummer sun, is a black sheet of hugeness. The constellations of stars are all visible, just like in the text books.  You can stand for ages gazing up in to the night sky over Österlen. All those stars that we normally don't see in the cities are up there, centuries old and glimmering like sequins on a magician's velvet cape. You are baffled by the massiveness of the heavens and the smallness of yourself.

Everyone should be reminded of this, the most primitive of circumstances. The night sky, the moon, the stars - and a very small city boy overwhelmed by the magnitude of the experience.